September 2010 Archives
September 30, 2010
September 21, 2010
I found the style of Gardens of the Sun a lot easier to read than The Quiet War, despite it being exactly the same. For the first book I was constantly jolted by the infodumps and jumps of time, but I'd obviously settled into that style for the second book and could enjoy the actual story. And the story is pleasingly more optimistic, and in some ways more sweeping. The same characters are followed as in the first book, each plot unwinding amidst the rubble of the war and covering huge swathes of The Solar System.
There are more locations too: moons of far flung planets, journeys across Earth, depictions of the beauty and vastness of The Solar System; all rendered is wonderful and evocative detail. The sheer number of moons around the outer planets that are colonised is in itself a jolting idea of what could be possible. Suddenly it felt to me that we have plenty of room out there if we just applied our resourcefulness.
The story shows Earth trying to suppress The Outers, in increasingly desperate ways, but the pressure just can't be sustained, and in the end the invention and ambition of the human race triumphs. Just as I'd hoped. I suppose that the story is less climactic than the first installment but it is in no way less important, and the steady achievement of The Outers (mixed in with a quick, sharp Revolution) feels perfectly believable.
I'd recommend reading The Quiet War and Garden of the Suns in one go, as it's just one, large, sweeping story and a really interesting example of modern hard science fiction. One that, in the end, I really enjoyed.
September 20, 2010
September 19, 2010
September 14, 2010
September 8, 2010
September 7, 2010
September 6, 2010
The fact that you can't wrest meaning from everything like fruit from trees--that meaning is a matter not only of story but of what the listener brings to the tale--all that is not something she can face at the moment.
So whilst the story was different and the language quite intriguing I wasn't really interested in trying to figure out what was going on and to wrest a meaning from the stories within stories. I'm sure some people will love analysing the short stories and discovering their purpose, the allegories or the messages, but I just wasn't in the mood for it.
September 5, 2010
- Best Novel: TIE: The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK); The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
- Best Novella: "Palimpsest", Charles Stross (Wireless; Ace, Orbit)
- Best Novelette: "The Island", Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2; Eos)
- Best Short Story: "Bridesicle", Will McIntosh (Asimov's 1/09)
- Best Related Book: This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is "I"), Jack Vance (Subterranean)
- Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the StormWritten by Kaja and Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
- Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Moon Screenplay by Nathan Parker; Story by Duncan Jones; Directed by Duncan Jones (Liberty Films)
- Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who: "The Waters of Mars" Written by Russell T Davies & Phil Ford; Directed by Graeme Harper (BBC Wales)
- Best Editor Short Form: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
- Best Editor Long Form: Ellen Datlow
- Best Professional Artist: Shaun Tan
- Best Semiprozine: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan
- Best Fan Writer: Frederik Pohl
- Best Fanzine: StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith
- Best Fan Artist: Brad W. Foster
Not much to say about the others, usual suspects for editing, Clarkesworld over Locus and Ansible and Interzone, and StarShipSofa wins, which shows you what a concerted internet marketing campaign can do.
And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines): Seanan McGuire
September 4, 2010
September 3, 2010
A one-hour version of the 2010 Doctor Who Proms will be broadcast on BBC Three on Monday, 6 September. And from that date viewers will be able to watch Backstage at the Doctor Who Prom, a must-see programme available through the BBC's Red Button service.I've heard from someone who was there that it was a great show, so should be worth watching it on TV. .
September 1, 2010
The Windup Girl is set in a future Thailand. A future post oil, post climate change, with genetically modified food and corporations waging war to protect their intellectual property. The setting is dense and evocative, you can feel the heat and humidity and the layers upon layers of ideas make the world feel realistically complicated. Instead of oil calories are the currency, unless you're wealthy and can burn coal, there are ingenious uses of hand and leg power in the story.
The Windup Girl of the title is a genetically modified woman, created in Japan as a kind of Geisha but abandoned in Bangkok, where she falls into the sex trade. She hears of a place where Windups can be free and dreams of escaping the city, made difficult by the fact that she is unlicenced. The sexual scenes involving the Windup Girl are very explicit, maybe you could argue unnecessary? But it leaves you in no doubt as to the plight of the woman, as to the depths we might sink against something we see as inferior and inhuman. It's a stark warning. And it means that when the Windup Girl eventually discovers some of her true abilities I was so firmly on her side that I was wishing carnage to ensue on her behalf.
Meanwhile other plots involve: politics between trade and eco organisations/factions in the government, the GM food corporations fight to expose Thailand's secret seedstock, an outbreak of a deadly virus, the plight of a refugee in the city and an (evil?) enemy gene wizard captured and working for Thailand. Like the world, the plots are intertwined and not laid out in a straight line, they weave and meander sometimes, but come together climatically.
I have a couple of criticisms. Firstly the argument for GM foods is very one-sided and presented as undoubtedly a bad thing. The only discussion of the benefits of GM is provided in a conversation with the "evil" gene wizard, so the reader is left in no doubt as to which side they should be backing. Personally I'm more optimistic about GM food so the lack of balance grated on me. Secondly the pacing of the first half of the book was a bit slow, whilst I enjoyed the world and the language I still wanted it to move a bit faster. But in general the novel is intelligent, thought provoking and full of great Science Fictional ideas.
The cover of the novel has a quote from Lev Grossman saying that he wishes Paolo would write ten sequels. Personally I don't. It's a great book, a really great book, leave it, I want to see what else he can produce, because I'm pretty sure there could be ten more original exciting novels.
One of this year's (last year's?) definitive Science Fiction novels.